Boss DSD2 Sampler/Delay
The Boss DSD2 Sampling pedal.
If you've been meaning to buy a Fairlight but just don't have the room for it, this miracle of miniaturisation could be for you.
Despite the introduction, cunningly contrived to attract your attention, you may be surprised to learn that the Fairlight can actually do one or two things that this little pedal can't do. It is probably nearer the truth to say that this is almost a pedal version of the well established DE200 rack mounted sampling delay unit but without the modulation facilities. There is no way to control the pitch of the stored sound in a musical manner via a keyboard; all you can do is to change the pitch by using the delay time control, but there are a lot of interesting things that you can do with this device.
Used to create straight echo, the DSD2 will give up to 800mS of delay and it's 7kHz bandwidth means that the sound quality is respectably bright, even though it may not sound quite as clear as an expensive rack mounted unit if you do a direct A/B comparison. There are, however, two more modes of operation that are of great interest, both live and in the studio, and these are rhythm sync and sampling.
Rhythm sync is the effect obtained by using the pedal in it's Rec/Play mode but synchronising the echoes to an external trigger pulse, in this case connected via an additional jack socket on the side of the pedal.
In the sampling mode of operation, a short burst of sound stored in the unit's memory may be triggered, again by means of an external trigger pulse, a typical example being the trigger output from a drum machine.
No techno-shock here, the DSD2 looks just the same as any other Boss pedal of which there are many. As Boss fans will know, all these pedals feature FET switching for silent operation, and the battery is located beneath the pedal for ease of changing. It would, however, be prudent to use a mains adaptor with this particular pedal as digital circuitry of this kind eats up batteries faster than a Sinclair C5 (but with more useful results).
There are only four knobs and one LED so operation is very straightforward. First comes the E.Level control which in effect adjusts the balance between the dry and delayed components of the signal.
"...digital circuitry of this kind eats up batteries faster than a Sinclair C5."
F.Back - yes you've guessed, it's the feedback control which sets up how long the echoes take to die away; at maximum setting of this control, the delay line can be made to oscillate if you really want it to.
Delay Time - now thats a tough one; this gives continuous control between minimum and maximum delay time and works in conjunction with the mode switch.
The last control, Mode is not a pot at all but a four position switch, the first two positions selecting 200mS or 800mS maximum delay time respectively.
The third position, designated Rec/Play allows new sounds to be recorded as old ones are replayed and this would be used for rhythm sync effects. In this mode, the stored sound is retriggered either by supplying a trigger pulse or by pressing the pedal when a new sound is recorded. If a single burst of sound is recorded in this way, the mode may then be switched to Play Only whereupon the sound may triggered by pulse or pedal without fear of erasure. By employing a high level of feedback when sampling a sound, subsequent sounds can be layered over the first giving rise to some interesting possibilities. If the pedal is held down continuously when the unit is in the Play mode, the stored sound is looped continuously until the pedal is released.
No battery back-up is provided so any stored sounds are lost when the power is removed, the power being turned on and off by the insertion of the output jack. Last and by every means least is the LED: this tells you if the delay is active or bypassed - or if the battery is past it's best.
"...the DSD2 does a fine job producing a brighter, cleaner sound than its bandwidth would lead you to expect."
As a straight echo device, the DSD2 does a fine job producing a brighter, cleaner sound than its bandwidth would lead you to expect and with very low background noise. In this respect, it's very similar to the excellent DD2 delay pedal but the triggered options add greatly to the flexibility of the DSD2.
Rhythm sync is particularly effective if you use a drum machine with a programmable trigger output as the echoes can then in effect be programmed to occur on whichever beats you choose. Lots of contemporary rhythmic sounds can be set up in this way; guitar or bass being particularly effective.
As a sampler, the DSD2 is again at its most impressive when driven from a drum machine, as the standard percussive sounds may then be replaced or supplemented by a sound of your choosing. Not only can you store the sound of a crate of Newcastle Brown falling off a lorry, you can also change the pitch up or down by varying the setting of the Delay Time control. This also depends on the position of said control when the sound was recorded.
The only tricky aspect when using this kind of device to sample a sound is that you have to press the pedal or supply the trigger pulse at exactly the right time if you are to capture the whole sound from the beginning without chopping anything off the sound or recording any dead time. The problem can be overcome by using a sound trigger unit to start the recording off automatically and a design for a crude but effective device of this kind was published in these very pages in November 84, which should do the trick. Even so, it's quite possible to train your foot to press the pedal at the right time so don't let this put you off.
Rhythm sync is one of those things that you really have to try for yourself before you realise how useful it can be but the benefits of sampling are more obvious. All the common B-B-B-Bollards effects are easily produced if thats the type of effect that you want to recreate, and you can just about store two complete words in the 800mS sampling time. The possibility of adding the sound of broken bottles to your drum machine is always appealing (or is it appalling) especially judging by some of the drum machines we hear on readers tapes, (You've got a lot to answer for out there!) and it is always a source of constant wonderment when some hitherto boring bit of kitchen gear turns out to give a really amazing drum sound.
At two hundred pounds, this is probably as near to free samples as we're ever going to get, so if you're looking for something along these lines but don't want to make your Access card overflow, give one of these a try.
Further details are available from Roland UK, (Contact Details).
Review by Paul White
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